East Cambs launches £2m Growth and Infrastructure Fund and confirms a Council Tax freeze for the ninth year in a row
East Cambridgeshire District Council has today (22 February) announced it is launching a new £2 million Growth and Infrastructure Fund to support sustainable projects for local communities.
The Council also confirmed it will be freezing its element of Council Tax again in 2022/2023 for the ninth year running. It is the only district, county or unitary authority still in operation in the country not to put up bills during this time.
It also has a balanced budget for the next two years, and will be making new money available for leisure centres and community-led housing projects.
The announcements were made during a meeting of the Full Council on 22 February 2022.
The amount residents pay to the District Council is less than eight per cent of the total bill. It means an average Band D property will pay £142.14 to the District Council, the same as it was in 2014/15. The remainder is divided between Cambridgeshire County Council, parish or town councils and the emergency services.
Cllr Anna Bailey, Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Today we have announced the launch of our £2 million Growth and Infrastructure Fund. We are, once again, freezing the East Cambs element of Council Tax. And we are making new money available for sports and leisure facilities and for community-led housing projects.
“Our new Growth and Infrastructure Fund will enable us to invest in projects that promote sustainable growth in our local communities, for example by supporting new or improved cycleways and community and sports facilities, and increasing biodiversity and space for nature.
“This is in addition to over £10 million invested to date in infrastructure projects across our district since we adopted the Community Infrastructure Levy, as well as £3.8 million that’s gone directly to our city, town and parish councils. These funds have helped to build and improve leisure centres, recreation fields, country parks, village halls, GP surgeries, car parks, youth centres, new roads, and cultural facilities such as Ely Museum and the fantastic new Viva Mill in Soham.
“I am also extremely proud of the fact that East Cambs is the only district, county or unitary council in the country to have been able to freeze its portion of the Council Tax bill for the past nine years. This is at a time when many other local authorities are increasing theirs by the maximum amount possible.
“As we emerge from the COVID pandemic household costs are rising sharply, and as a Council, we want to do whatever we can to support our residents. We appreciate freezing our portion of Council Tax is a modest gesture, but we hope residents appreciate that we really do have their best interests at heart.”
Cllr Bailey said the Council had been able to invest in services without the need to increase Council Tax because it behaves commercially for community benefit, avoiding the need to borrow for investment.
She added: “We make good use of our own reserves to forward fund projects and activities that deliver benefits to our communities and that provide a return for the Council that far outstrips that available through normal investment. For example, the effort and investments that we have put into East Cambs Trading Company alone have provided over £3.6m financial benefit to this Council since it began, with more to come over the next few years.
“The new money the Council is making available to leisure centres and community-led housing projects will also reap benefits for our local communities. The money fulfils our promise, following delivery of The Hive, to support other leisure centres in our district and will help them to make improvements to run sustainably. We are also providing new funds for community-led housing projects to help them develop their projects and deliver affordable homes reserved for people in their own community.”
In summing up her speech to Council Members, Cllr Bailey added: “So, a new £2 million Growth and Infrastructure Fund, a Council Tax freeze for nine years, a balanced budget for the next two years, new money for leisure centres and community-led housing projects, no external borrowing and low management costs, all go to show one thing. That this is a well-managed Council, a Council that is delivering for its residents.”